New Year celebrations were ignored in many towns and villages across Co Donegal last night as the body of tragic nurse Mary Ellen Molloy was brought home for burial.
The 26-year-old was killed on December 20th last when a branch of a tree fell on the taxi she was traveling in Melbourne, Australia.
People in villages across Donegal including Glenswilly came out to pay their respects as the funeral cortege passed in the early hours of the morning.
People also lined the streets in the town of Glenties and stood in silence as Mary Ellen was brought onwards to her home village.
The town of Ardara came to a standstill as Mary Ellen's funeral cortege finally arrived just before 2am.
The close-knit community left aside celebrations and instead came out to welcome home one of their own and to prepare for what will be a heartbreaking funeral tomorrow (Thurs).
A close group of Mary Ellen's friends met the funeral cortege at the local bridge into the town and walked alongside the hearse carrying the popular local woman.
Many held LED lights as the walked in procession to the Church of the Holy Family.
The still night air was pierced by the tragic cries and tears of many young people who counted Mary Ellen as their friend.
From there her family including her dad Terence, mum Angela and brothers John Ross and Karl Joseph brought Mary Ellen to their home at Edergole for some private time alone.
Deputy Pat the Cope Gallagher, a close family friend who has co-ordinated Mary Ellen's repatriation said they were truly emotional scenes.
"It is a tribute to the communities of Donegal including the many families who came out to pay their sympathies to the family by coming out so late in the darkness from Glenswilly onwards.
"Hundreds lined the streets in Glenties in a dignified fashion and it was a source of comfort to the family.
The scenes in Ardara was so humbling as what seemed like the entire village lined the streets to help bring Mary Ellen back to where she belongs.
"It will not heal their pain but the support the family received last night will give them some source of strength in the coming days knowing that Mary Ellen was loved so much," he said.
Mary Elen will be waked at her home from 1pm today (Wed) before her funeral mass tomorrow (Thurs) at noon
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the funeral mass of the popular local woman who was known by many.
Beautiful Mary Ellen left her native Ardara sixteen months ago to work at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
She has started to make a life for herself in Australia but kept in close contact with her family and friends at home.
Her love and connections with the GAA community saw her join St Kevins GAC in Melbourne where she met many friends.
Members of the club started a Go Fund Me page in the wake of the tragic incident in which Mary Elen died and to date, that fund has raised a staggering €116,500.
A Christmas Day message from organiser Mary Grehan said "On behalf of St Kevins GAC, the girls and their families we would like to continue to thank people for their generosity on this Christmas Day.
"This page has not just helped alleviate the financial stress that comes with this traumatic event but has also given the girls and their families comfort in knowing the massive community and support they have behind them. Nollaig Shona."
Among those who welcomed Mary Ellen home to her final resting place last night was her uncle and godfather Anthony Molloy, Donegal's 1992 All-Ireland winning GAA captain.
Mr Molloy, who is also a Fianna Fail county councillor, said there are simply no words to describe what his family are going through as they prepare to say a final farewell to Mary Ellen.
Mr Molloy said "It's impossible to put into words the feeling that is there. This should be a happy time of year for the family at Christmas and the New year but all there is is a sense of numbness and sorrow at what has happened."